As my own Hawaiian experience draws to an end, I was so excited to interview ‘Gypsy’ designer Kate Ruggiero. I’m always so intrigued and inspired by people who make bold decisions to change their direction in life to follow a dream… I’m sure you will love her story and her creativity as much as I do!

Where did you grow up?
In the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, PA.

How long have you lived in Hawaii for?
3 and a half years.

What inspired you to start Gypsy?
Living in Hawaii I spent a lot of my time outdoors. I would have have afternoons to daydream and my mind would be constantly spinning with stuff. I really wanted to start creating a bikini that I felt was perfect for me. I thought it was crazy that I live in a tropical place and yet had the hardest time whenever I went bikini shopping. I could never find something for me, something simple but sexy. I found tons of Brazilian cuts and a lot of the same old stuff. So for fun I thought I’d start sewing and make myself something. I was gifted a sewing machine from a few close friends for my 30th birthday and started learning right away. I thought an easy start would be to work with stretch fabrics and ended up deconstructing a few pairs of my favorite underwear to create my favorite pair…..

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What are 3 words that would most describe Gypsy?
Follow your heart or my pure bliss, or modern romance, classic – sorry its hard to pin it down to 3 words!

Tell me about your life before this?
I worked for a reputable fashion photographer for 5 years while living in New York and honestly loved it. It was an amazing opportunity for me; I handled photo shoots, learned photo retouching and worked with so many talented and inspiring stylists and artists’ everyday. But that pace of life was so stressful and I was ready for something new. When I moved to Hawaii I worked on a few productions and worked for one surf photographer here on the north shore.

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Each piece is one of a kind and I try to make something you will NEVER see in a department store. The fabrics are all so different from what you would normally see and I try to keep the design classic but sexy and a bit different from your basic boy short or standard Brazilian cut. Since each piece is hand cut and hand sewn here in Hawaii, each one is unique.

How long have you been doing it for?

I was given the sewing machine in July 2 years ago. I started learning and designing and the ‘official’ launch date of Gypsy was last May. I had a designer showcase at Etown Studios, a really adorable boutique here in Chinatown for First Fridays Art Walk. The line sold out over the course of the month and I knew it was something that made people happy!

Are you self taught in design and sewing or did you go to school to learn?
I am self-taught but also have some amazingly talented peers out here that I have been learning from over time. I knew basic sewing from growing up and having been taught by my mother but everything else I have been learning along the way. There is so much to learn and so many new directions to grow in so it’s something I am really excited for the line.

After spending 2 weeks here in Hawaii I’m so inspired! You must have an endless supply of inspiration all around you living here, what else inspires you?
I’ve been blessed to travel a lot and those journals and photos always help, but mostly my family. I have 2 older sisters, 3 nieces and parents whom I’m very close to. Being so far away from them, if I’m in a funk I find a phone call always brings me back to myself. I am also endlessly inspired by photography. I find one good photo that somehow hits a feeling for me and that’s enough. Ms Daeja Fallas has tons of those photos for me…..

If you weren’t here in Hawaii doing this, what do you think you would be doing right now?
Living in Italy working in a flower shop or learning to become an excellent baker. Random I know but there is SO much I want to learn to do and somehow all those daydreams involve me living in Italy and Spain.

Do you plan on extending the label to cover other items of clothing or accessories?
The next step for gypsy is introducing a swim piece into the line. I’m very excited as I’m currently working on a bikini, which will come out in the coming months. I also have tons of ideas for clothing pieces and extending Gypsy further. I have clothes I want right now, classic favorites that for some reason are SO hard to find so I sketch and daydream up those next pieces for someday too… I dream about having a small boutique someday to feature the lingerie, swim and clothing separates.

What do you love most about living and working in Hawaii?
The sunshine and hearing the ocean when I fall asleep.

What are some must do things for anyone planning a trip to Hawaii? 
Swim at Eternity beach, go camping under the stars, eat poke, pick plumerias (frangipanis), go shell hunting at Keikis at sunset and spend the afternoon hand making a lei…

Where do you see yourself or hope to be 5 years from now?
I see myself experiencing so many more adventures and am so excited for all that is to come. I am the worst at predicting what will happen or having a 5-year plan. I like to trust that whatever happens is the right thing for me and I trust that I will be truly blissfully happy. That being said, I would love to be taking many more travels, learning to cook better and expanding Gypsy to include an amazing swimwear line and eventually be looking for a little space to call my shop!

Thank you Kate!

Be inspired by ‘Gypsy’…
Lookbook photos by
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